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End-Stage Renal Disease (ESRD)

What Causes End-Stage Renal Disease?

The two most common causes of ESRD, and of chronic kidney disease more generally are:

  • High blood pressure

  • Diabetes

These two diseases together cause two-thirds of all cases of chronic kidney disease.6

What are the symptoms of end-stage renal disease?

Chronic kidney disease can be difficult to detect in its earliest stages because symptoms aren’t always present or noticeable until long after your kidneys have already started to fail.
Some of the most common symptoms of chronic kidney disease include:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Constant headaches
  • Loss of appetite
  • Constant itching, dry skin, and skin that is lighter or darker than usual
  • Fatigue, weakness, and a general ill feeling
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Changes in how much you urinate
  • Decreased mental sharpness, difficulty concentrating, confusion, and drowsiness
  • Muscle twitches and cramps
  • Bone pain
  • Numbness or swelling in the hands, feet, ankles, or elsewhere
  • Swelling of feet and ankles
  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • High blood pressure
  • Weight loss even when you're not trying to lose weight
  • Bad breath

However, in all these cases, symptoms can also be symptoms of other problems.  Therefore, it can be difficult to know if they're signs of chronic kidney disease. 



  1. (MedlinePlus: End-stage kidney disease)
  2. (Mayo Clinic: Chronic kidney disease)
    (Guidelines for the management of chronic kidney disease)
    (Prevalence of Chronic Kidney Disease and Associated Risk Factors—United States, 1999 - 2004)
    (CKD estimates - Neoerica 210209)
  6. (National Kidney Foundation)
    (New York Times: 60 Lives, 30 Kidneys, All Linked)